Taking time to get a few things right and in order

March 02, 2002|By Gregory Kane

CORRECTIONS, reflections, ruminations and additions.

Reality check: Michael Plitt, principal of Carver Vocational Technical High School here in Baltimore, called with the names of two more students who won awards last month at the Region III Vocational Industrial Clubs of America competition.

Michael Portee took second place in architectural drafting and Wilbert Lewis took second place in cabinetmaking. Lewis went to the national competition last year in his trade. Portee and Lewis were out on work study the day eight other Carver students -- later celebrated in this space -- were interviewed about the VICA competition.

And you'll notice that it's Michael Plitt, not George Plitt as I wrote in my column. Another Kane senior moment? Perhaps. All I know is if I don't stop staying up until 2 a.m. to watch The Twilight Zone, I'm going to find myself in it. Or maybe I just need to stop watching HBO's Oz.

Deja vu all over again: In 1978, the Baltimore Colts traded away their All Pro tight end, Raymond Chester, after he had the temerity to suggest that quarterback Bert Jones -- dubbed "The Franchise" by local sports wags -- really wasn't all that good. Joining Chester as persona non grata among Colts management and fans were running back Lydell Mitchell and wide receiver Freddie Scott, who also soon found themselves gone.

Mitchell, as former Orioles great Jim Palmer pointed out in a sports magazine, accounted for 70 percent of the Colts offense. But Mitchell found himself on a list of those sports figures underappreciated by Baltimore fans, which included Palmer, Frank Robinson and Lenny Moore.

So when the Ravens gave the boot to tight end Shannon Sharpe -- who then criticized the performance of (now released) quarterback Elvis Grbac -- you had to get a feeling we'd been here before. There are significant differences, of course.

The Colts were owned by Robert Irsay. So, pure, genuine, unbridled idiocy inspired the purging of Chester, Mitchell and Scott. The Ravens have serious salary cap issues. Grbac is hot on the heels of Sharpe in departing town. By the time the dust settles, the Ravens may be asking players at Hereford High School in Baltimore County to suit up for 2002.

Just a little more on the sports and race issue: It's that magazine again. Yes, Sports Illustrated's contribution to better race relations this week comes from former Green Bay Packer great Paul Hornung, who was quoted in the Feb. 18 issue. Notre Dame, Hornung's alma mater, should, according to the school's distinguished alumnus, lower academic standards. This would allow Notre Dame to recruit more black athletes, who, Hornung says, are better players but don't cut the mustard when it comes to grades.

What has been the reaction to Hornung's comments? You haven't heard a mumbling word. Where's the African-American "leadership" on this one? This group can usually find white racists under every bed and coming out of the woodwork. Black "leadership" hasn't been this quiet since, since ... well, they've never been quiet, really. Until now.

There's a reason. Truth is a defense against almost anything. And Hornung simply told the truth. And blacks -- "leaders" included -- are apparently so smitten with black athletic prowess and the predominantly African-American pro football and basketball leagues that we can't see the corner we've painted ourselves into.

Three down, one to go: Is anyone really surprised that a federal appeals court overturned the obstruction of justice convictions of three New York City police officers in the Abner Louima case?

A brief refresher. Louima is the Haitian-American sodomized with a broken broomstick by former cop Justin Volpe in 1997. Volpe got 30 years.

Officers Charles Schwarz, Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder, charged with covering up this horror, got what amounted to a traditional hook-up for cops from the criminal justice system. Judges, on the district, circuit, state appellate and federal levels, have a warm spot in their heart for police officers. There's nothing wrong with that. But judges should just admit it. That way, no one will be surprised at the reversal of convictions.

Even Volpe won't be in prison much longer. Here's what will happen: Volpe will get a lawyer to file for post-conviction relief and a modification-of-sentence hearing. This same lawyer will go before a judge and swear that Volpe is truly sorry, penitent and a changed man. The attorney will swear that Volpe has suffered enough.

Nearly every police union in the country will support Volpe. If not, they'll be very quiet about it. What you won't hear is one police union demanding that Volpe serve out the remainder of his term. Many tears will be shed on his behalf. Then, he'll be released.

Remember, you read it here first.

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